For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 
Contact: 
Jonathon Berman, (202) 495-3033, jonathon.berman@sierraclub.org

Obama Administration Announces Interagency Task Force on Natural Gas Storage Sites

Task Force’s Creation is in Response to SoCalGas’ Aliso Canyon Facility Leak

WASHINGTON - Today, in response to the Southern California Gas Company’s Aliso Canyon facility that leaked for over three months and dumped nearly 100,000 metric tons of methane into the Porter Ranch, California community, the Obama administration announced the creation of an interagency task force on natural gas storage facilities to prevent similar disasters from occurring in the future. The task force will be spearheaded by the Department of Energy and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), and will include technical experts from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of the Interior, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

In August of 2015, the EPA proposed the first ever standards for methane, safeguarding new and modified oil and gas infrastructure, and recently, President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a climate pact that, among other items, committed both countries to reduce methane emissions from new, modified, and existing sources. However, neither the EPA rule nor the recent climate pact cover natural gas storage facilities like that in Porter Ranch.

In response, Sierra Club’s Washington Representative Jessica Eckdish released the following statement:

“We welcome the Obama administration’s effort to prevent disasters like the Porter Ranch leak from happening again. This task force is well-equipped to uncover the answers needed to protect communities and our climate from the dangers of deadly methane pollution, and I am encouraged by the stakeholder engagement process outlined today.

“While I hope that this task force will act swiftly to improve the safety of natural gas storage in the near term, the Aliso Canyon leak and ongoing methane leaks around the country underscore the fact that fossil fuels can never be made safe. Ultimately, we must transition to clean, renewable energy sources and leave dirty fuels in the ground.”

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The Sierra Club is the oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization in the United States. It was founded on May 28, 1892 in San Francisco, California by the well-known conservationist and preservationist John Muir, who became its first president. The Sierra Club has hundreds of thousands of members in chapters located throughout the US, and is affiliated with Sierra Club Canada.

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